Aceh, 7 Tribes, Map
|Alas Tribe 154.000|
|The majority of the Alas people live in villages and make their living from farming and raising livestock. The Alas area is considered the lumbung padi (rice storehouse) of the Aceh area. Other agricultural products include rubber, coffee, and kemiri (a local spice) as well as other forest products such as wood, rattan, resin, and incense.Neighborhoods or villages of the Alas are called kute. One kute usually consists of one or more clans that are called a merge. Extended families will live in one house and submit to the authority of the parents. They are a patrilineal society, which means they measure descent through the father’s family. Their culture emphasizes two types of law. The first type consists of religious laws that are given by God and cannot be changed. The second type consists of traditional laws, which include rules that have been made by the leaders of the community and can be changed according to the times.According to marriage customs, an engagement lasts from one to three years due to the necessity of the man acquiring the bride price, and the woman the groom price. When an Alas man and woman marry, they live near the husband’s family. After they have children, the young family will usually move and live separately (jawe) from the parents but stay in the same area and community of the merge. Polygamous marriages are permitted when the marriage has produced only boys, only girls, or no children at all (adak meu keu dueu).|
Generally, the Alas people are followers of Islam, but they still seek the assistance of a dukun (shaman/healer/occultist). They perform ceremonies so that their crops will prosper and be protected from plague. The dukun reads his mantra and uses magical potions of leaves and flowers that are considered powerful to ward off plagues.
|Aneuk Jamee Tribe 16.000|
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The Aneuk Jamee people are one of the people groups that live on the western coastline of the Indonesian province of Aceh. They tend to live around the small bays found along the coast. They are also spread out over the low plains hemmed in by the Bukit Barisan mountain range. The Aneuk Jamee are located primarily in West Aceh Regency in the five districts of Tapak Tuan, Samadua, Susoh, Manggeng, and Labuhan Haji. There are smaller concentrations of them in South Aceh Regency in the three districts of Johan Pahlawan, Kaway XVI, and Kuala.The name aneuk jamee in the Aceh language means, “visiting child” or “newcomer.” The name was used to describe Minang people from Lubuk Sikaping, Pariaman, Rao, and Pasaman who began migrating to the area in the 17th century. Gradually, they assimilated with Aceh people in the area, a process facilitated by a common Islamic faith. Eventually, they came to feel that they were neither Aceh nor Minangkabau but rather a new people group with their own distinct culture and language. The Aneuk Jamee language is called Jamee or Jamu. For the Aceh in southern Aceh, this Jamee language is understandable because the Minangkabau vocabulary mixed with Aceh is similar to the national Indonesian language. However, the Aneuk Jamee do not understand or use the Aceh language.
Many Aneuk Jamee are fishermen, while others work in irrigated rice farming (basawah), unirrigated agriculture (baladang), and growing fruits (bakabun). There are some Aneuk Jamee who are permanent traders (baniago), but others, known as penggaleh, sell goods from village to village.The Aneuk Jamee have three levels of society. The nobles (datuk) form the highest level. The middle level is formed by district chiefs (hulu baling) and religious leaders (ulama), such as the prayer leaders (tengku), priests (imam), and Islamic judges (kadi). The common people are the lowest level. Traditional leadership in a village contains a combination of Minangkabau and Aceh elements. These leaders are the village headman (kecik), prayer-house leader (tuangku manasah), and youth leader (tuangku surau). This is somewhat different from the district level leadership, which is the same as traditional Aceh leadership patterns. This pattern consists of an area headman (mukim), village headman (kecik), street leader (ketua jurong) and elder (tuha peut).
Islam is the religion followed by the Aneuk Jamee people. As among other Indonesian peoples, the Aneuk Jamee also exhibit some elements of previous beliefs that are not easily forgotten. The services of a dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) are still frequently used for various things. For example, a dukun is sometimes asked to put a love spell (sijundai) on a girl or to recover a girl who has been bewitched in this manner.
|Gayo Tribe 230.000|
|The Gayo of Indonesia live in the remote central highlands of Aceh Province on the island of Sumatera. Their homeland lies across the Bukit Barisan Range (“Parade of Mountains”), which reaches heights of over 12,000 feet and runs for over a thousand miles. The Gayo mainly live in Central Aceh Regency and Southeast Aceh Regency. Their language is Gayo with two dialects, Gayo Lut and Gayo Luwes. The Gayo do not have a written language. Folk tales and oral stories are passed down in the form of poetry.The Gayo are close neighbors to the radical Islamic Aceh people, and in the past, the sultans of Aceh conquered the Gayo region and made the Gayo slaves. After an initial resistance (during which many Gayo were killed), the Dutch occupation from 1904-1942 resulted in the Gayo developing a thriving cash crop economy in vegetables and coffee. During the occupation and during the 50 years of Indonesian independence, the Gayo have gained access to higher levels of education, and participated to some degree in the Islamicization and modernization of their country.|
The main source of income for the Gayo people is farming with the main crop being coffee. Other sources of income are fishing and gathering forest products. They also have developed skills in ceramics, weaving mats and weaving cloth. Another well known handicraft, called Kerawang Gayo, is embroidery with gold/colorful designs. In a traditional Gayo house (umah) uses palm thatch and wood. Several related families typically live together. There is also a meresah where older boys, bachelors, widowers, and male visitors sleep. This is also used for studying and religious activities. Gayo arts include saman and didong, which are mixtures of movement, literature, poetry, and singing. Apart from entertainment and recreation, these arts have ritual, educational, and informational functions, as well as being a means of maintaining balance in the social structure. The Gayo marriage pattern calls for marriage outside one’s own family. However, marriage between cousins is not forbidden. Most men marry women from the same area. This is done so that the man will already know the woman and the woman’s family can continue to look after her. A first marriage must be approved by both families (polygamy is rare, but allowed). Divorce and remarriage are quite common.
The Gayo people are mostly Muslim, but their understanding and conviction are lacking. Most Gayo still believe in good and bad spirits and holy men both dead and alive. They also continue to worship and make offerings to spirits, saints, and their ancestors.
|Alas Kuet Tribe 20.000|
|The Kluet people are one of eight people groups that live in the Indonesian special province of Aceh. They are found in two districts of South Aceh Regency, namely North Kluet District and South Kluet District. These two districts are divided by the Krueng Kluet River, which has its source in the Leuser Mountains and empties into the Indian Ocean. The area where the Kluet people live is remote, about 20 kilometers from the main road, 50 kilometers from the city of Tapak Tuan and 500 kilometers from Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.The Kluet language is divided into 3 dialects, the Paya Dapur dialect, the Meunggamat dialect, and the Krueng Kluet dialect. Apparently the language has evolved from a combination of the Alas, Kuo, Aceh, and Minangkabau languages.|
The Kluet area is very fertile, and most Kluet make their living from farming irrigated and unirrigated rice fields or growing crops such as coffee, patchouli (which produces fragrant oils), and all sorts of vegetables. Other means for livelihood include raising livestock and fishing. Fish are either eaten fresh or preserved for storage. One way of preserving the fish is by smoking it. This type of preserved or dried fish, called ikan saleh, is a specialty of the Kluet people.The Kluet people are famous for hunting, since they live at the edge of the jungle. During the time of Dutch colonialism, this people group was often noted for their skill on the battlefield. Their skill as hunters made them able fighters. They often employed guerrilla tactics to fight their enemies.The Kluet prefer to live in groups and only in certain areas. They have a strong sense of ethnic identity, and, therefore, they do not spread out very far from each other. They find it difficult to mix with other people groups, and as a result, their culture is rather closed to outsiders. Kluet villages are comprised of houses and a number of other buildings, including rice barns, a meeting center, women’s centers, religious schools, and mosques. The meeting center, called a meursah has a variety of purposes. It is used as a place to read the Qur’an (Islamic Holy Book), say daily prayers, hold special Islamic celebrations, as well as a place to meet or for young men to sleep if there is no religious school in the village. The women’s center, or deyah, is a place where women may go to worship.
Most Kluet are followers of Islam. However, traditional animistic beliefs have not totally disappeared and often have significant impact. This can be seen in routines of daily life, especially in various special ceremonies. Many are afraid of supernatural ghosts (setan). They also believe one of the graves in their area has magic powers. According to the Kluet, this grave can be seen at certain times while at other times it disappears. Magic talismans are used so that evil spirits will not hurt them. The use of such talismans helps them feel calmer and more protected.
|Sikule 27.000 Christian|
|Central Simeulue Island. Alternate names: Sichule, Sikhule, Wali Banuah. Dialects: Lekon, Tapah. Similar to Nias [nia].|
|Simeulue Tribe 107.000|
The Simeulue people live on Simeulue Island located 200 kilometers off the western coast of Aceh Province. Their largest towns are named Sibigo, Sigulai, and Lamame. On Simeulue Island there is no land transport available and the only means of travel is walking.Simeulue people are known as being friendly and brave. Their physical appearance is sometimes described as being more similar to northern Asian peoples because they are often of lighter skin than other Indonesians. This is different from the general appearance of the Aceh people on the mainland. The Simeulue speak Ulau, which means “island,” and it has two dialects. Sigulai is used in western Simeulue and Salang, and Devayan is used in eastern Simeulue, central Simeulue, and southern Tepang. In general the Simeulue can speak the Aceh language because of the strong influence of Aceh culture on the Simeulue.
Generally, the Simeulue make a living from planting cloves and coconuts as well as fishing. Each village usually has one mesjid (mosque) or musholla (prayer-house). Beside using it for prayer, the mesjid is also used for discussing religious issues, holding social functions, providing information from the government, and encouraging the community to work together on community projects. The village head in Simeulue is called a kecik. Previously, the Simeulue were ruled by a king before they were conquered by the king of Aceh and became part of that kingdom. The Simeulue house is built on stilts. Typically, the parents live in a large house with their unmarried children and the families of their sons. This group is called walli or walli akrab. Heredity is patrilineal (tracing descent from the father).Living arrangements after marriage are of three types. In the first pattern, the couple lives near the husband’s family. The second pattern is called paladangan sataun duo in the Devayan dialect or beladang sataun duo in the Sigulai dialect. In this pattern, the couple lives for a few years with the wife’s family and the husband must help his in-laws. After this, they live with the husband’s family for the rest of their lives. In the third pattern, which is called mafanofano, the couple always lives with the wife’s family and the husband must help his in-laws. This usually happens because the wife is an only child.
Although most Simeulue embrace Islam, many are still influenced by animistic beliefs and various superstitions. These beliefs are focused upon seeking protection through magic by either appeasing or controlling both good and bad spirits
|Tamiang Tribe 6.800|
The Tamiang live in the southeast part of East Aceh Regency, in the Aceh Province. Previously this area was the Tamiang administrative district with a very large area of 7,760 square kilometers. Now the district has been divided into six districts, Kuala Simpang, Bendahara, Karangbaru, Seuruway, Kejuruanmuda, and Tamiang Hulu. One legend states that the name Tamiang comes from the words itam and mieng. Itam means “black” and mieng means “cheek.” This appellation supposedly arose because a king of Tamiang named Raja Muda Sedia (1332-1362) had a black mark on his cheek. Another story says that the name Tamiang comes from the name of an island in the Riau Archipelago, which was the original dwelling place of the Tamiang people’s ancestors. The Tamiang people have their own language with an 87% vocabulary similarity to the Melayu (Malay) Riau language.
The main source of income for Tamiang people is planting rice in both irrigated and unirrigated fields. Other crops which they plant are corn, cassava, tomatoes, chili peppers, and eggplant. They also grow fruits such as oranges, mangoes, durian, and langsat. Those who live on the coast fish and make coal from mangrove trees. Some become plantation workers and traders. The Tamiang rarely leave their area because their agricultural land is extensive and fertile enough to support them. At the beginning of the twentieth century, this area received many migrants from other areas because of the opening of rubber and palm oil plantations and oil wells.The Tamiang people are controlled by the “Law of the Four Peoples.” This means that the highest traditional leader is the “Datuk of the Four Peoples.” The word datuk comes from the word ndatu, which signifies the first person to open a settlement (rebas tebang). Those who came later were placed below the existing Datuk. In the ensuing process, the four Datuks united their areas and chose a king (raje) as leader. This decision was established and sealed with an agreement called Kate Tetuhe. The four datuks were titled Datuk Imam Balai, Datuk Penghulu, Datuk Hakim, and Datuk Setia Maha Raja. For the king there was a proverb: “raje adil raje disembah, raje lalin raje disangah” (A fair king will be worshipped, a cruel king will be dethroned). In upholding that role, Tamiang leaders hold onto a vow that states “kasih papa setia mati” (a father’s love is faithful to death). Traditional law was effectively carried out with the philosophy “adat dipangku, syarat dijunjung, resam dijalin, kanun diatur” (traditional law is administered but religious law is respected customary ways are formed but canon law is organized).
Tamiang people are followers of Islam, which has penetrated various aspects of their lives. However, many still carry out the ceremonies of their old beliefs. They hold certain ceremonies connected with their everyday lives, such as ceremonies held for blessing the planting of the rice (kenduri blang), the harvesting of the rice, and ceremonies to protect them for disasters (tula bala).